The European Union and India will agree to restart long-stalled trade talks at a leaders’ summit on Saturday, an EU official said, as tensions with China spur closer cooperation.
“After almost eight years of the suspension of the free trade talks, we will agree to resume these,” a senior EU official told journalists on Thursday in a briefing ahead of the summit.
“This opens up the way to a possible free trade agreement between us.”
Momentum has been growing for closer ties between Europe’s 27-nation bloc and the world’s largest democracy in the face of the rising might of Beijing.
Trade talks between the two sides were halted in 2013 after getting stuck on issues including cutting tariffs and access for Indian workers to Europe.
The EU official said Brussels was hoping to reach “an ambitious, comprehensive and also mutually beneficial agreement” with India — but it remains to be seen if New Delhi will ease up on its traditionally protectionist approach.
“We believe that this is one of the areas of cooperation between EU and India where the potential gain, both economically but also strategically, is the greatest,” the EU official said.
The bloc’s push to resume negotiations comes at a time former EU member Britain is also making a play to bolster its trade ties with India, as London seeks to carve out its new role.
The British government said Tuesday it would start formal free talks with India late this year after the two sides agreed an initial package to boost bilateral trade and investment.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)